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Wyoming Legislature holding special session to consider banning employer vaccine mandates

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Posted at 8:09 AM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 10:09:06-04

Montana is the only state in the country to ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates for employees, but that soon may change.

Wyoming lawmakers met for the second straight day Wednesday in a special session to discuss legislation for the Cowboy State.

A special session that started with 40 proposed bills has now been whittled down to three.

The Wyoming Senate will consider a Senate File 1003, a bill prohibiting discrimination based on COVID-19 vaccination status.

"Comes down to the individual's right and decision to make a choice on their own regarding vaccine mandates," said Sen. Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, Senate president.

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The Wyoming House is looking at two bills.

House Bill 1001 would prohibit employers from requiring a COVID-19 vaccination.

House Bill 1002 is an act relating to the protection of individual rights.

"Find a balance in protecting our Wyoming citizens from what we feel is federal overreach," said Rep. Jamie Flitner, R-Greybull. "And then also wanting to protect our Wyoming business owners."

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Protections for business owners is one of the big concerns for Rep. Chad Banks, D- Rock Springs, who voted against holding a special session.

"The mine managers in our area have some real concerns about what this is going to do when we're putting forth state mandates that directly go in opposition to what the federal mandates are," Banks said.

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"Our focus is on just in general the vaccine mandate and making sure that businesses aren't burdened with traditional problems because of this legislation," Dockstader.

Legislators say the bills proposed in Wyoming are not based on Montana's laws.

Complicating matters, the unknown and how a federal mandate could impact legislation passed by the state.

"We don't even have a mandate in place at this time," Flitner said. "But we're just trying to tee things up for our citizens so that they have some protections."

"The proposed guidelines are for employers over 100," Banks said. "But OSHA hasn't sort of promulgated what those exact guidelines are going to look like."

The special session was originally scheduled for three days, but now will most likely run six days ending on Tuesday.